Occasionally venting just helps – so let us give it a go.
The other night while dining in a fine restaurant, a singer with guitar walks in and announces to all the diners she is traveling through Mexico and would like to sing for us.
The warbler belts out a couple of short (thank you for that anyway), horrendous renditions of some old Mexican standards. Then quick as a flash a felt bag is placed in front of each table of diners asking for a propina (tip) for the effort. The first night I fell for this intimidation and forked over 20 pesos.
The second time we encountered this supposed talent we just said no. In my defense the first encounter the girl had brought another girl to accompany on conga drum; it seemed more difficult to deny the two of them. Twenty pesos is said to be the minimum amount one pays for each tune WHEN REQUESTING this personal entertainment. Of course it is cheaper than hiring Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to play at your birthday party.
In Xico roaming Mariachi Bands go from restaurant to restaurant doing much the same as the girl(s) described above – add that they usually go to each table asking if you would like them to play for you – at least they ask.
In Mexico you can be accosted at a traffic signal where some person starts spraying water on your clean windshield while at the same time you are screaming NO!
Or jugglers dart out in front of halted traffic waiting for a green light. They have it timed so before the change to green they are at your window looking for a tip for this entertainment. Sometimes there are literally a band of them; occasionally the juggled wands are on fire.
While ‘clubbing” the other night in Zipolite, a couple of fire brandishing juggling and jiggling females came in right during a stage performance by a salsa band. After a few minutes, they went around to customers that were trying to enjoy the music with tiny tambourines inverted to hold donations. We had seen them in the middle of the Adoquin earlier in the evening working the street.
There is a girl in that photo brandishing fire – look carefully
We have been on many a local bus trip here in Mexico where some toy-like $15 guitar is being hacked at while someone who could get arrested for singing in the shower assaults the peace and quiet of the creaky, brake screeching Mexican bus. A short tune and then the outstretched palm. You are the sponsor with no agreement or request.
Here in Mexico we have simply been walking along a side walk when we encounter a three or four piece band that usually includes wooden vibes, string bass and guitar and one or two hombres that could not sing their way out of a paper bag. Often there is a ‘collector’ who runs around with a bag or cup – doing nothing else but intimidation for profit.
Apparently without even attending psychology 101 these people have figured out that many will pay out of embarrassment – sometimes when it is in-your-face you just cannot say no.
Here is the deal – if I want to be entertained I am willing to pay for it. But I am not willing to shell dough out to someone that forces their talent or lack thereof upon me – period.
Obviously, bus line, restaurants, police and community policies tolerate this for the most part. I am less tolerant and will avoid this jail house entertainment (a captured audience) as often as possible.
If you are coming to Mexico, you might want to practice in front of a mirror , say it with me now, “NO!“ Practice this a lot – you will be glad you did. Stay Tuned!